The Ivy Coach Daily

May 2, 2020

Elite Colleges Waiving Testing Requirements Due to Pandemic

As of today, Cornell is the only Ivy League school that has gone SAT / ACT optional for the Class of 2025 (photo credit: Justin Ennis).

As we have been reporting, more and more elite universities are waiving their testing requirements for admission this coming year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. A week ago, Cornell University became the first Ivy League school to go test-optional for the Class of 2025. Williams College and Amherst College have gone test-optional next year as well. So too has the University of California system. Tufts University, Vassar College, Pomona College, Haverford College, Davidson College, and Tulane University have also gone test-optional for the Class of 2025. So is it a trend? In light of ACT, SAT, and SAT Subject Test cancelations this spring, are more and more elite universities going test-optional? You bet!

But Cornell Remains the Only Ivy to Go SAT / ACT Optional

But writers for The New York Times, Neil Vigdor and Johnny Diaz get a little carried away. In their piece, “More Colleges Are Waiving SAT and ACT Requirements,” they write, “Two other Ivy League schools, Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania, do not require students take SAT tests for admission.” That is false. A correction should be issued by “The Gray Lady.” Both Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania both — as of the time of this posting — absolutely require the submission of an SAT or ACT score. We believe Mr. Vigdor and Mr. Diaz have confused the SAT and ACT with SAT Subject Tests. After all, Princeton recently reiterated their stance that SAT Subject Tests are optional: “While our policy has long been that SAT subject tests are recommended but not required, now seems the appropriate time to reiterate that applicants who do not submit subject tests will not be disadvantaged in our process.”

Even Test-Optional Schools Love Test Scores

It’s also important to keep in mind that test-optional schools still love to see test scores. And when applying for admission to schools with such low admit rates, who cares what’s required? The game is not to only submit that which is required. The game is to wow admissions officers. As Cornell wrote in their press release upon going test-optional, “In Cornell’s review during the 2020-2021 application cycle, results from the ACT or SAT might still be a meaningful differentiator in particular for students who: live near or attend a school that will be open, and where testing will be offered, or who live near a testing center that will be offering more testing seats or dates than they did in 2019; and have not experienced lost income for one or more of their household providers or other significant new hardships and losses during 2020.” Take Cornell at its word on this point. Cornell would still love to see a top SAT or ACT score!

And, yes, we will alert The New York Times of the error in their reporting. It happens!

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